Gov. Roy Cooper signed a new bill into law earlier this month that will change the accreditation process for universities and community colleges in North Carolina. House Bill 8 will require universities to find new accreditors after every cycle.
Accreditation refers to the process of review that ensures the quality of university institutions and programs. This process occurs approximately every eight to 10 years and impacts the federal financial aid universities receive.
Sallie Russell, former UNC trustee and healthcare director, said the University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is responsible for the accreditation of all schools in the South.
Russell said having the same accreditor over time impacts how schools are evaluated.
“We’ve been accredited by SACSCOC for a long time and that creates a longitudinal knowledge base, and that’s helpful to have when you’re dealing with assessing the quality of their curriculum,” she said.
Every accreditation agency is responsible for enforcing the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education, Russell said. By having to change accreditors after every cycle, she said other agencies may not rigorously evaluate curriculum requirements.
Accreditation is a peer-reviewed process made up of university and college officials.
Since the accreditation process is run by faculty, Rosalind Fuse-Hall, director of legal and governmental affairs and commission support at SACSCOC, said the new procedure will be “time-consuming and costly.”
Russell said the changes to accreditation will not just impact faculty, but students as well. She said because some accrediting agencies are more highly regarded than others, a student’s degree may not qualify for other schools.